Jim Brickman tonight at Bass Hall

He’s a brick…man

BrickmanThe elegance of popular pianist Brickman is never lost during the holiday season. He brings back his “Christmas Celebration” concert to North Texas, and while he enchanted us at the Meyerson this past January, he’ll be tickling our ivories in Cowtown at Bass Hall this time. Either way, he makes it look a lot more like Christmas when he’s around.

DEETS: Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. 7:30 p.m. $33–$82. BassHall.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Daddy knows best

Sexy pianist Jim Brickman makes touring a family affair

RICH LOPEZ  | lopez@dallasvoice.com

concert-1
PAPA JIM | Jim Brickman strives to keep his road crew one big, happy family as they head to Dallas. (Arnold Wayne Jones | Dallas Voice)

JIM BRICKMAN
Meyerson Symphony Center,
2301 Flora St. Jan. 7–8  at 8 p.m. $39–$117.
DallasSymphony.com

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Switching out of holiday mode can be tough: putting away decorations and getting back to daily grind takes some adjusting.

The same can be said for celebrities — at least for Jim Brickman. The smooth-playing pianist (and sometime singer) has performed a holiday tour for 15 years which just wrapped up in the final week of 2010. Now he has to shift gears quickly for 2011 with his spring and winter tour A Night of Romance, which comes to the Meyerson this week.

Whichever show Brickman is on the road with though, he keeps it a family affair, with Brickman serving as the loveable patriarch.

“It took me, like, 15 years to get the right combo of talent and crew,” he says. “We all work so hard so it’s like a road family. When we’re on the bus, the crew and talent are all together. There is lots of loyalty in this group for each other and I want them to take pride in their work and each other.”

But even with the warm fuzzies, Brickman is still the boss. Like any parent, he pushes his children to strive for the best and encourages the work of everyone involved, from the lights people to his band — even himself.

“This tour has been going so well, “ he says. “I’ve been most proud because this show is extremely tight and the flow is perfect. I don’t want audiences to want to wait for something to happen and they’ve been great.”

His audience might be considered a third family. Where some aim for roaring crowds, Brickman likes a more personal impression; if a fan feels like it was a one-on-one experience, the musician calls that the bigger triumph.

“I’m very fond of that dynamic because that becomes very family-like,” he says. “I’ve learned that the more you are who you really are and the less you perform to an audience, the more comfortable they feel. When you play a hall, especially like [the Meyerson], there’s an energy about it and the audience creates that and takes it with them.”

On his newest album, Home, he ventures into country music and collaborates with genre staples Lady Antebellum and Ty Herndon, among others. This might sound like a departure, but he sees it as more relevant than people might think.

“The thing about country music is it’s extremely organic and by nature is more acoustic — more so than any genre,” he says. “I wanted it to feel very comfortable. You put it on and have a sense of simplicity and make it like a soundtrack for chilling at home.”

He gives high marks to country singers over most pop singers, too, which he attributes to being storytellers. On of all his duets, which include Martina McBride and Olivia Newton-John, he says the one that came together the best was with a very green singer.

“You know, I’d have to say that Kermit the Frog was probably my favorite one. I always think that there has to be a chemistry between me and performer and it was there,” he laughs.

Brickman is a veteran of the biz; He released his first album, No Words, in 1994 and his holiday CDs have been popular sellers since. But he still admits he’s a little anxious about his upcoming shows with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

“Yeah, when I’m performing live, I’m solo, so if I decide the audience needs a pick me up, I can do something because I’m an improviser,” he says. “You can’t do that with the symphony. If you don’t play what they are playing and you hit two wrong measures — yeah, that’s not a good situation.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas